The Birth Story of Ember Hope

As Ember is now 6 weeks old (holy cow, where did the time go?) I’m so glad that I’m finally getting around to putting up her birth story that I’ve had written for about two weeks. Ha ha. Hey, that’s how it is now and I’ve just got to go with the flow. It’s crazy how each birth is so different and unique, and let me tell you, Ember’s birth was totally different from the other two. Totally. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning… (image by my dear friend, Evin with EvinPhotography and PhotoMamas) Thursday, June 8th, 2017 I head to my OB appointment and because I’m a few days late, they want to put me on a stress test for the baby to make sure the fluid levels are ok and her heart rate is good and whatnot. After sitting in their massage chair watching Chip & Joanna Gains on HGTV, they come back and tell me that her heart rate dropped a little at one point so they want to do an ultrasound just to make sure everything is all good. On one hand, I’m not worried, because I know it’s totally normal for babies to come “late” (I think due dates are a bunch of crap anyway… they just serve to stress the mom out as the date comes and goes). But then on the other hand, the fact that they wanted to do an ultrasound because they are slightly worried made me slightly worried. I head to the ultrasound and everything looks great. The technician even said it looked... Read More

The Night My House Burned Down | Part III

“Thoughts create beliefs in the conscious mind; once sent to the subconscious, those beliefs become feelings and actions. If your subconscious computes that you will likely succeed at something, it brings all your powers to bear to make it come true. If it computes that you’ll fail, it will generate behavior to make that come true–that’s what it means to be self-destructive.” -Tim Sanders, Today We Are Rich It has taken me years to get the courage to write part 1 of this series (and even longer to access the tools to make it a reality in my life). I have mulled over writing part 3 of this series for weeks now, and the reason is that truthfully, I was afraid to write it. Afraid that you all might think we should be talking about marketing strategy, or off-camera lighting instead of vulnerability, trauma, and how to change our core belief systems. But today I am stepping into those fears and writing what we know we need to send you regardless of that fear, and if you don’t want to read it, that’s totally fine! We have a great shooting and marketing piece coming your way soon enough. Fear causes people to freeze and to not act, and fear typically is a symptom of shame in my life. Shame that someone will not like what we say, or not like who we are, or not like the direction we are headed. But that is OK. Shame, fear and the controls we put into place to manage them are NOT something we want in our lives anymore! Welcome to part... Read More

The Night My House Burned Down | Part II

Last week’s email really struck a chord with many of you. We received over 150 emails, and some of you shared heart-breaking stories of pain, feelings of defeat, struggle, hope, joy and gladness. We want to say thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time to share. No one is perfect, and we all have our own stuff to deal with and hurdles to overcome, regardless of how perfect things may seem from the outside. We hope to continue to be a voice that has meaning in your lives and speaks truth. Last week I (Zach) covered how I developed a mind-set of powerlessness. This week we are going to dive deeper into that mind-set and show you how to recognize it, and once you expose it to the light, work through the steps to defeat it in order to create a life that is limitless. “Powerlessness is one of the primary effects of poverty.” Danny Silk, Culture of Honor Winning in life or business is dependent on exposing the lies we have believed, and bringing truth into our minds and hearts. When we do that, we open our self up to the limitless possibilities of what we can do when we believe that anything is possible. Let’s get started. Poverty is infectious. I am not talking about money, influence or how much stuff you have. I am talking about an impoverished mind. Thinking this way is dangerous, destructive and holds many people down. Today I want to lift you UP and show you that poverty does not have to overtake you. Once I was exposed to the truth of how I thought,... Read More

The night my house burned to the ground…

It was 1985 and I was sound asleep in bed at 4am. I woke up to the fire alarm and I (Zach) remember thinking at that young age, “Man, mom is cooking again…” and I went back to sleep. But my house WAS on fire. My mother woke me and my 3 siblings (Gabriel, Abigail and Sarah) and we gathered in the living room where flames were running up the wall. We sat on the couch and watched the reflection of the fire on our TV while we waiting for everyone to group up. We ran out of the house wearing nothing but our winter boots and pajamas as fire blew the windows out behind us when we opened the back door. We just escaped with our lives. I was 6 years old, and my dad was not there. My dad had left my mother and us 4 kids the year before, and now here we were alone in the dark of that 4am Northern, MN winter, and we had lost everything. It all went up in flames. And from that day on I felt like my childhood did as well. That was the first of many traumas in my life over the next decade that included abuse, neglect, and a max of a 3rd grade education that caused me to believe one thing… I am Powerless over my Fate. And this is what I begin speaking to myself internally for many years to come. This became who I was and who I told myself I was destined to be. But the story doesn’t end there. After spending 10... Read More

A great 2016 starts here…

“What comes out of the mind is what you put in the mind. You must feed your mind like you feed your body.” – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking The new year is here, and for some of us that gives us a hope and excitement about the future and for others it feels like another year that we are worried will bring us more failure. “Maybe my business just won’t be a success this year.”  “My kids and life are so demanding, so how can I possibly be a success in 2016?”  “I am tired of feeling down and depressed, but I just can’t seem to shake it.”  Feelings of hopelessness, despair, worry and anxiety or just feeling “stuck” is something many of us have dealt with (including me, Zach). They pretty much suck the life out of you and can turn your stomach inside out and give you a bleak outlook. Is there anything that you can do starting right now to help turn those feelings around and make 2016 your best year ever? Well, we like to start with what we can do today, and then this week, and then 2016 will take care of itself. “Every man is what he is, because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.” – Tim Sanders, Today We Are Rich Information-Intake Day If you are ready to change who you are for the better starting today, then you have to start by taking inventory of your (as Tim Sanders calls it) “Mind Diet.” Your Mind Diet is is the daily intake of what you allow... Read More

The Birth Story of London Rain

(Design by Tracie Prichard of The Ink and Grain) It is crazy that our 2nd born child is here! And even cooler that we have our girl!! So surreal. So awesome. I’m often afraid I’m going to wake up and it’s all doing to be a dream. But alas, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a dream and it all really happened and she’s here to stay :) (yay!) I wanted to take some time to share with you the story of how little Miss London came into this world :) With Jaxon’s labor being so long and brutal (you can read Jaxon’s birth story here), I had no idea what to expect with this one. I could only hope and pray that London’s labor wouldn’t be a repeat! As I’m starting this post, it’s only been one week and already, some of the details are fading, so I thought I would go ahead and write this down! September 16, 2015 | 6 Days Past Due 3:45 am – I woke up to my first contraction and then waited to see if more would come. For the next 4 hours contractions were coming. They were on average 7-8 minutes apart lasting about a minute to a minute and a half. I figured since they weren’t letting up that it was the beginning of labor, and because we had no idea what to expect as to how long this labor might go, I was trying my best to get sleep and decided not to wake Zach so he could get as much rest as possible. Because I hadn’t had the best... Read More

It had been awhile since we had done this…

We did it… As a photographer, one of the most valuable experiences you can have that will benefit you AND your clients is to get IN FRONT of the camera every now and then. Yes, in front. Not behind. A couple weeks ago we had the huge honor of having our maternity/family photos taken by none other than Katelyn James & Amy Demos. (Above Image by Amy Demos) (Above Image by Katelyn James) We loooooooooooove the shots they took of our family and we can’t thank them enough! It’s always a great experience being shot by another photographer (or in our case, TWO photographers) and we can’t encourage you enough to make an effort to get in front of the camera on a semi regular basis. Not only do we want to share with you images from the session (I mean, come on, how can we not? We LOVE these photos!), but we want to share our top 3 reasons why you can benefit from getting a professional photoshoot.  >> Visit Katelyn’s blog featuring our family session! >> Visit Amy’s blog featuring our family session! Why You can Benefit from Having Your Own Professional Photoshoot #1. It helps you relate to your clients better Doing photoshoots can become second nature and we can often forget how our clients feel! They are thinking about it the week leading up, trying to plan what they are going to wear, and may even be pretty nervous the day of and at the shoot. When you schedule your own photoshoot, you are reminded of all of this and it helps you empathize with your clients so you... Read More

Gender scan for baby #2 is today!!!

It’s time to find out the gender!  Yes, we have waited the “old fashioned” way to find out at the anomaly scan instead of the newer bloodwork tests that can tell you two months sooner. But here’s the kicker: even though the scan is today we aren’t finding out the gender until TOMORROW (Friday)! When I (Jody) originally made the appointment we were both in town, but then Zach got asked to do a gig in Texas, which is causing him to miss the appointment! If we rescheduled we would have to wait another MONTH, and that wasn’t going to happen. ha. So, I’m bringing a girlfriend for moral support, and I’m not going to look when they are finding out the gender! (This will be my biggest test of restraint yet. ha ha). When Zach gets home later Friday evening, we’ll find out together… and we may just be sharing it live with you all on Pericsope! Stay tuned to our Instagram accounts (@ZachGray, @JodyGray & @ItstheGrayFamily) and facebook (Zach & Jody Photography) for us to share further details.  If you want to watch, make sure you download the app and get it set up, and follow us at @ZachandJody. In the meantime, what’s your guess?  BOY OR... Read More

Friday Fun | Adding to our home..

  We’re pregnant, y’all! … and you thought since we were in a newly built house we were were talking about putting an addition on…  :) Yes, we’ll be adding to our house, but not with construction – with a baby! We are SUPER excited for our family to be growing and I have been so ready to be pregnant again! We knew we always wanted more than one kid and were hoping and praying that it would happen, and here we are! Pregnant once again! Ahhhhhhhhh! Jaxon is going to be a big brother! We’re going to be a family of FOUR… that’s crazy. And awesome. And exciting. REALLY exciting. YAYyayayayayay! Here are the answers to the most common questions we get: How far along are you? 19 weeks this Thursday (4/16) When’s your due date? Mid September How have you been feeling? I’ve been feeling GREAT! With Jaxon’s pregnancy I felt pretty normal besides being a little tired and my growing midsection and this pregnancy has pretty much been the same! I had about 2 weeks (around 8 and 9) where I would feel slightly queezy in the evenings, but that went away and I’ve been feeling great ever since. Are you going to find out what it is? As a matter of fact we are pretty much 100% certain it’s a human… Hahaha. We’re so funny. But in all seriousness, heck yes. We are totally going to find out the gender. Are you crazy?? We gotta plan AND we’ll need time to mentally prepare ourselves if I (Jody) am going to be REALLY outnumbered with the... Read More

How I Survived the Transition from Business Owner to Biz Owner + MOM | Part I of the Mom Series

It has been a year and two months since we have added a third person to our lives and business – Jaxon Pierce Gray joined our team November 7th, 2013. (image by It seriously has been such a blast having a kid, but as with any new addition to a family, there’s always adjustment that takes place.  Many of you have wondered how we are making it work and so I (Jody) thought that we would dedicate a blog post to share not only our journey of adjusting with Jaxon now being a part of our lives, but I also wanted to let other full time moms who are also business owners share how they are balancing the act of being mom and business professional. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a… business! I always thought that I would be one of those women who needed a career once I had kids… just for sanity’s sake. You know, trading the shirt covered in spit up for a cute top and have some good ‘ol adult, human interaction. Then I had our first kid and that all changed :) (image by A little over a year and a half ago, we found ourselves pregnant, and because we had no idea what to expect, we planned and prepared to take a few months off once Jaxon came into this world. Our little Jax was born, and it was a fun time of stepping away from our business and just being able to focus on this new little person in our lives. Soon, it was time for both... Read More
zach and jody gray, jaxon gray, nursery decor

Introducing Jaxon’s nursery

This has been a LONG time coming!  We finally are sharing with you Jaxon’s nursery!  I (Jody) have always been excited about decorating a nursery for our children, but  living in an apartment while pregnant as we awaited our home to be completed, definitely didn’t allow me to decorate our nursery before baby.  While I waited for an actual nursery to decorate, I busied myself planning and trying to figure out what I wanted. The only problem is I didn’t know where to begin. I knew I wanted something cool and different than cars, cartoon animals or the ABCs (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just not the direction I wanted to go in :).  After poking around online, my ideas started coming together and below you’ll see the creative process of decorating for the nursery! I started off by scouring Pinterest after looking at a lot of nursery ideas and then I found a color palette that I liked on Design Boards. Then, I summoned my inner designer and created a style board from things I saw that I liked!   Jaxon had his name branded by friend and designer Tracie Prichard, so I wanted to incorporate that as well! And here is the result!! Wall color: Worldy Gray by Sherwin Williams White Birch Trees & Birds: Wall Decals from American Decals on Etsy Light: IKEA   Rocker chair: Costco Blackout curtains:  From This Little Home on Etsy (LOVE these curtains and super high quality) Baby furniture: from the Heritage collection (color: slate) purchased at USA Baby White lamp: IKEA White shelves: Lowes My sister, Jacq Washburn is... Read More

The Process of Decorating our Home with our Family Session, PART II

Last week we showed you how we decorated our home with canvases from our family shoot taken by Amy and Jordan Photography.  This week, we want to show you what else we did with images from the family session. (Specific product information is listed at the bottom of this post) When we were building our home, we had a light fixture installed in the ceiling of one of our hallways because we knew we wanted to light a photo display. We have always had canvases in our home, and we love them, buuut we wanted something a bit different. I was looking into the collage wall displays from our lab, Bay Photo and knew this was what we wanted to do!  I found a collage that I really liked and then I taped our wall off (again, yes, I know there are programs for this, but sometimes I just like getting my hands dirty ;o). Then, I finalized the images that I wanted on that wall from our photo session!  I wanted to make sure that there was a shot in there of just us and I wanted to make that the focal point of this collage.  As awesome as having our son has been, it’s always been important to us to make sure that our roles as husband and wife don’t get lost in the mix of being mom and dad. We looooooooove this shot from Jordan and Amy and knew this one was going in the collage :) I also wanted a photo of each of us with Jaxon and the below two are the ones we landed on.... Read More

The Process of Decorating our Home with our Family Session

Ahhhh!  We were so pumped to have our first family photo session taken of Jaxon two months ago by Amy and Jordan Photography and yes, it has taken us this long to decide on final prints and get them ordered.  :) We are excited to share with you Part One of how we have decorated our walls with this photo session. We have a front room in our new home that was slated to be the formal dining room, but since we never used our formal dining room in our old place, we decided to use it for something else. It is currently serving as a sitting room of sorts, which we actually have utilized quite a bit! I (Jody) knew I wanted a bigger canvas to fill in the space and I have always loved the idea of grouping canvases or wanting a split panel here (when one canvas is split into two canvases).  As we went through our favorites from the shoot (which were WAY to many ha ha) I started to put together an idea of what I was wanting for the front room!  To make sure I was REALLY comfortable with the sizes I was thinking, I went old-school and taped up the area the canvases would hang.  (Yes, I know there are programs for this, but sometimes I just like getting my hands dirty ;o).   I first chose one of our top favorites from the shoot:   And then I chose the below photo to compliment it!   This image pairs well with the previous shot of us because whereas the first image is... Read More

Our house… in the middle of our street

Contrary to what the title of this post reads, our house isn’t REALLY in the  middle of our street… the song was just in my head :) Sooooo yes, onto our house!!  We have been so busy with trucking along with life that once we got everything unpacked we have ever so slowly been finalizing the rooms as a spare moment makes itself available. I thought that we would go ahead and update you with the latest ideas we have going on and then soon enough, you will be able to see the finished work!! For the last two weeks our house has been held together with blue tape.  I, Jody, am a visual person,  so I have been taping the walls where canvases and shelves will be going :)  There are three main areas I have been focusing on as of now – our sitting room, a hallway upstairs, and the nursery. Below, is our “sitting room” aka, “was the formal dining room but aren’t quite sure what to do with it yet but when the movers came we had them put this couch here and it worked and we have actually used it as is and we thought we would keep it that way until a better idea came along.”  :)  We are still wanting to do something cool on the left wall where people can sign their names or SOMEthing, but we have yet to hash those details out.  In the meantime, we had an older image of us on the wall, but will soon be replaced with our canvases that are en route as I... Read More

Our House – Taping Shelves

the nursery where shelves are going to go (got that genius idea from our neighbor and talented graphic designer, Tracie… beats getting crabby with a spouse who can’t hold up two shelves simultaneously so I can make sure they are going to be installed  in the correct place :), and of course, I’ve been taking walls for canvases and mounted prints that we were deciding on ordering! Below is a collage on one of our hallways that will host 6 images from our family portrait session we had done 2 months ago :)  I know, I know, about time! Completely my fault... Read More

Tuesday Photography Tips & Tricks | Separation of Work and State (of mind:)

  “We are taking time off spending time with baby Gray, but have put together our favorite Tips and Tricks from the last two years for us all to review!” Today we wanted to touch on a subject that has been at the forefront of our lives lately – truly putting your business in its place so that it doesn’t overtake your life! Back in August of 2008, our business was growing fast and we were having a ton of fun with it all. The problem was, we had put our personal relationship on the back-burner and that month came to the realization that we were barely spending any quality time with each other. So, we decided to take a drastic step and have Jody quit her day job that she had at the time. It was hard walking away from the extra income, the awesome insurance and the “security” of that job. But ultimately we knew that if we did what was right, we would be rewarded with something much greater; a strong relationship with one another that will last far beyond any cool photos we will ever take. So, we know that everyone out there reading this is in a different place in their business, but we also know that ALL of us deal with how to keep the reins tight on our business and making sure that we are devoting enough of our spiritual, emotional and physical energy to ourselves and our loved ones. Today we want to challenge you to ask yourself the following: What one thing you can do right now to tame your... Read More

Taking Some Time Off – Be Back Soon!

  As Jody and I await the arrival, then new life adjustment of having our son and finish our home build, we are taking some time off. We will be GOING DARK from Social Media, Facebook, Instagram (we may pop in here and there) and the Blog and will not be creating any new content for a few months. But don’t worry! You guys are all a huge priority in our lives and we will STILL have some content coming your way! We will be REVISITING some of our FAVORITE Tuesday Tips and Tricks and some Friday Finds that we created over the last 2 years so we can all get a refresher as we head into late fall and early winter! We will ALSO have be REVISITING our favorite and biggest NEWSLETTERS that will be hitting our private list 2 times per month. So come on back 2 times a week for info, sign up for the newsletter for more content and also check in for any news on Baby Gray! We will officially be back on January 15th with loads exciting new things coming your way! We are going to be hosting some amazing webinars (like are Reclaim Your Life Webinar that had over 500 photographers tuned in!), some new workshops coming your way, brand new Newsletters for those in our Tribe, another amazing CONNECT MARRIAGE RETREAT for couples in business together from March 31 – April 3rd (seating is almost SOLD OUT!) and MUCH MUCH MORE! Even though we will be going dark for while, we do have something REALLY amazing happening this November so stay tuned... Read More

Baby Gray Maternity Session

We just had our 8 month meternity photos shot by the amazing David Molnar! We will just share 2 images here, and then you can head over to the ItsTheGrayFamily blog for more for those that want it! The great thing about being a photographer is you always have photographer friends who can hook you up with an amazing session, and David and his wife Tammy did it with style! We shot their family session 2 months ago (see more on our Instagram feeds at @jodygray and @zachgray) and now they have returned the favor. It is rare to have someone who you trust will not only shoot great images, but help you feel great during the process and David and Tammy are just those type of friends. It is such a blessing to be in community and have people around you that walk with you through the hard, fun and even mundane parts of your life. This image below was shot on David Molnar’s iPhone during the session. He has an amazing iPhone book coming out that will teach people how to create incredible images with their phones and we will blog and talk about it more when it releases! Blessings all!  ... Read More

Friday Fun | Free Advertising

With our little bundle of joy due 6 weeks from today, we thought that we would start him off as soon as possible working for the business. We have decided to auction off advertising space on the baby outfit he will be wearing for the first images we post online for him. What do you think? Good idea? Bad Idea? Ok, ok, we aren’t for real.  It’s simply a funny idea.  I can only imagine the things we’d get from people… lol…... Read More

Friday Fun | My Grandparents #personalproject

This past weekend Zach and I took a mini roadtrip to visit my grandparents.  I don’t know what life would be without family, especially grandparents!!! I’m so thankful that 1) I get the pleasure of knowing my grandparents and 2) that I got to live with them for a few years growing up.  I always love it when I can spend time with them, and this weekend was no exception! (I love how my Grandpa has a sweet tooth… these donuts were dee-lish!) Not only did I want to make the visit to hang out with them, but I wanted to capture their love as well.  No one is perfect and therefore no relationship is perfect, but I have to say, my grandparents definitely set a great standard of what marriage should look like.   I took some time and asked them questions about their relationship and then Zach and I shot them later that day.  We cannot wait to show you more images (put a few other teasers up on our instagrams – ZachGray and JodyGray), but for now, these will have to hold you over :) Love you, Grandpa and... Read More

Friday Fun | A Home Built For 3

Jody and I decided about 3 months ago to sell our house and build (to read more about how it happened, CLICK HERE), and are excited to share some updates! Just 2 weeks ago, we were just getting the permits re-approved for our foundation adjustments and went out to the house with some friends and snapped this shot. This is us standing in the garage with some of the foundation in the background. Then, the framing crew came in and as we went out to the house yesterday to have a little date night and fly our paper airplanes, we took this below image. I never thought I would call a framing crew “artists” but after reading Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception, I realized what a narrow view of art I really had. When you start with a blank slate and are looking through plans and trying to make changes to accommodate what you want in a home, you start to see what a true art building something like this really is. And all of us are working towards building something. Whether it be a family, a house, a portfolio or a great business. The key thing is to realize: 1. That we are all artists no matter what we are trying to create (and it is important for us to know that truth) 2. Art is important for the world.  We need to be out creating something that others can enjoy and find life in. It seems like the guys that build our house are just going from home to home and doing the same old thing... Read More

We are off the grid

With our new baby growing, us selling our house and building a new one, and the dire need to spend some time together, we are going off the grid for a few weeks!   We will be updating some happenings on Instagram and Twitter (follow us at @zachgray and @jodygray), but all blogs will cease until mid-July. When we come back, we have some BIG news of our latest project that we have been slaving over for literally MONTHS! We can’t wait to share it with you all and chat with many of you soon!!... Read More

Moscow Here We Come!

Come August, we will be adding a new location marker to our decal wall map!!   We have been asked to speak in Russia!     We are headed to the MyWed Party which is an amazing community of photographers from – They come together each year like a small WPPI and we are ecstatic to be speaking there August 6th – 8th!   If you are going to be in the area, come and see us!!    ... Read More

Friday Fun | What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

It’s official peeps! We are building a home! Because releasing our 3rd video workshop this fall (no worries, you’ll soon be hearing about our 2nd IN-CAMERA video workshop releasing soon!) and having our first kid isn’t enough (yes, we’re prego – if you missed the announcement, you can read about it here), we have bought property and will be building over the next few months.  Estimated completion date: end of November/December… oh my! How it happened: We knew our first home that we have been in for the last 3 years wasn’t our “forever home” and we had started compiling a list of “wants” for our next home.  Here and there, we had looked at homes for sale, and started realizing what we were looking for in the area we wanted, didn’t exist and figured some day we would probably build.  Then an opportunity presented itself – an acre lot only 3 miles away from us, only 10 lots in the whole community, still in the heart of Franklin where we love, good neighbors close by, and everything just fell into place! We are building a home!  ahhhh… So the  next steps: 1. List our current place and get it sold while the market is hopping 2. Find a place we can live in until our new home is done! ahhhh….. I know, it’s crazy this is all happening now, but what can you do? :) We are excited and looking forward to all the changes ahead :) For those of you who have built a home what are some great tips and advice that you can give us?... Read More